Notes to broadcasters on combining traditional and scientific weather forecasts

    | April 2, 2012

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    Research has shown that traditional forecasting methods have been and continue to be successful in predicting future weather and helping farmers prepare. In our Kenyan story, the value of traditional weather forecasting has been acknowledged by the national meteorological department. On the other hand, some recent news stories suggest that traditional weather forecasts might not be as accurate in this time of extreme weather events and climate change. This debate will surely continue to develop. In the meantime, as broadcasters, we can serve our audience by airing many perspectives on this issue.

    Here are four other news stories on this topic, see:

    Kenya: Successful Weather Prediction Uses Old and New: http://allafrica.com/stories/201004300008.html

    Predicting Weather with Science and Spider Webs: http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=44202

    Kenya: Drought Puts Traditional Weather Forecasters On The Defensive: http://allafrica.com/stories/201202060189.html

    Traditional weather prediction incorporated into Kenyan forecasts:  http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/traditional-weather-prediction-incorporated-into-kenyan-forecasts

    The following two–part Farm Radio International script talks about traditional weather forecasting:

    -Farmers have important knowledge about weather and environmental change – Part I: Learning about local signs of drought (Package 75, Script 5, June 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/75-5script_en.asp

    -Farmers have important knowledge about weather and environmental change – Part II: Preparing for drought (Package 75, Script 6, June 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/75-6script_en.asp

    This script also touches on traditional weather forecasting techniques:

    -Changing farming production in Africa to adapt to climate change (Package 84, Script 14, April 2008) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-14script_en.asp

    Also, check out the lead article in Farm Radio International’s Voices newsletter #75, from June 2005: Tapping Into Farmers’ Traditional Systems of Forecasting Drought and Other Environmental Change http://farmradio.org/english/partners/voices/v2005jun.asp

    Here is a story from Farm Radio Weekly related to weather forecasting:

    Mali: Sali Samaké’s journey from literacy class to weather reports (FRW 147, March 2011)

    http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/03/07/mali-sali-samake%E2%80%99s-journey-from-literacy-class-to-weather-reports-by-soumaila-t-diarra-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-mali/

    Are there traditional weather forecasters in your area? Have they been collaborating with scientific weather forecasters? Ask local “rainmakers” or traditional weather experts their opinions on the changing climate, and the challenges this brings for their methods. What kind of signs do they look for to tell them about upcoming weather? Has this changed? Talk to farmers in your area and find out the situation – do they turn to national broadcasts based on modern methods, or do they have confidence in traditional weather forecasts?

    You might want to set up a roundtable discussion between traditional and modern scientific forecasters. Perhaps they could collaborate in your area, just as they do in western Kenya.